Search
Exact matches only
//  Main  //  Menu

 
☰︎ Menu | 🔍︎ Search  //  Main  //   🖖︎ Prayers & Praxes   //   📅︎ Prayers for Civic Days on Civil Calendars   //   International   //   International Workers' Day (May 1st)

הָאִינְטֶרְנַצְיוֹנָל | the Internationale, by Eugène Pottier (1871); Hebrew translation by Avraham Shlonsky (1921)

https://opensiddur.org/?p=44602 הָאִינְטֶרְנַצְיוֹנָל | the Internationale, by Eugène Pottier (1871); Hebrew translation by Avraham Shlonsky (1921) 2022-05-24 23:39:38 The <em>Chanson Internationale</em> (‘International Song’) was originally written in 1871 by Eugène Pottier, a French public transportation worker, member of the International Workingmen’s Association (The First International), and activist of the Paris Commune. He wrote it to pay tribute to the commune violently destroyed that year. The song became the official anthem of The Second International, of the Comintem, and between 1921 and 1944 also of the Soviet Union. Most socialist and communist parties adopted it as their anthem during the last decades of the 19th century and throughout the 20th century, adapting it in local languages (Russian, Yiddish, etc.) to their particular ideological framework. The anthem was first translated into Hebrew by Avraham Shlonsky in 1921. Text the Open Siddur Project Aharon N. Varady (translation) Aharon N. Varady (translation) Ron Kuzar (translation) Avraham Shlonsky (translation) Eugène Edine Pottier https://opensiddur.org/copyright-policy/ Aharon N. Varady (translation) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ France International Workers' Day (May 1st) Nirtsah Labor Day (1st Monday in September) socialism 19th century C.E. 20th century C.E. זמירות zemirot Humanist Humanist Judaism 57th century A.M. anti-fascist Labor Zionism internationalism national anthems Siege of Paris (1870–1871) Paris Commune
Source (French) Translation (English) Translation (Hebrew) Translation of Hebrew (English)
Chanson Internationale.
International Song.
הָאִינְטֶרְנַצְיוֹנָל
the Internationale.
Debout les damnés de la terre,
Debout les forçats de la faim.
La raison tonne en son cratére.
C’est l’éruption de la fin.
Du passé faisons table rase.
Foules, esclaves, debout, debout.
Le monde va changer de base.
Nous ne sommes rien, soyons tout.
Stand up, the damned (people) of the earth,
Stand up, the starved forced laborers.
Reason thunders in its crater.
This is the final eruption.
[Out] of the past let us make a clean slate.
Masses, slaves, stand up, stand up.
The world is going to change from its base.
We are nothing, let us be everything.
קוּם הִתְנַעֵרָה עַם חֵלֵכָה
עַם עֲבָדִים וּמְזֵי רָעָב
אֵשׁ הַנְּקָמוֹת הַלַּב לִחֵכַה
לִקְרַאת אוֹיַב הִכּוֹן לַקְּרָב.
עוֹלָם יָשָׁן עֲדֵי הַיְּסוֹד נַחְרִימָה
מִגַּב כָּפוּף נִפְרֹק הָעֹל
אֶת עוֹלָמֵנוּ אָז נָקִימָה
לֹא כְּלוּם מִתְּמוֹל, מָחָר – הַכֹּל!
Arise shake yourself, a hapless people,[1] Cf. Isaiah 52:1-2 with “O (daughter of) Zion,” replaced with a “hapless people.” For חֵלְכָה (hapless), find Psalms 10:8-10 and Psalms 10:14-15 in their context. 
a people of slaves[2] Cf. Deuteronomy 26:5-6. Following after the Russian and Yiddish translations. Shlonsky alters “the whole world of hungry people and slaves” in Russian, to “a people of slaves…” , wasted with hunger;[3] Cf. Deuteronomy 32:24. 
the fire of vengeance has scorched the heart.[4] Cf. Psalms 94:1-2, Psalms 94:6, and Psalms 94:14-15 in their context of avenging the acts of the wicked. While the Russian and Yiddish translations, have the metaphor of “burning” directed towards the struggle, Shlonsky evokes the theme of social justice in the psalm according to Kuzar. In the context of early Zionism, I think it would evoke passions of vengeance against the injustices against Jews in the pogroms occurring at the very time Shlonsky was translating this Hebrew version. 
Prepare for the battle against the enemy.
Let us demolish the old world to its foundation;
from a bent back we shall dismantle the yoke.[5] Cf. Jeremiah 28:4, the yoke of oppression in the Diaspora. 
Let us establish our world!
Yesterday is nothing, tomorrow is everything!
Refrain
C’est la lutte finale.
Groupons-nous, et demain
L’Internationale
Sera le genre humain.
Chorus
This is the final battle.
Let us unite, and tomorrow
The International
Will be the human race.
מקהלה
זֶה יִהְיֶה קְרַב אַחֲרוֹן
בְּמִלְחֶמֶת עוֹלָם
עִם הָאִינְטֶרְנַצְיוֹנַל יַעוֹר,
יִשְׂגָב אָדָם!
Chorus
This will be the last battle
in [what has been] an everlasting war.[6] Kuzar suggests this refers to the class struggle attested in a play by Haim Shurer (1919), which “deals with the struggle between the veteran peasants in the Jewish agricultural settlements and the newly arrived Jewish agricultural workers.” (For the play, find Ha’adama 1: 287-316 [In Hebrew]). 
With the rise of the International(e)[7] i.e., here referring to Left-wing International movements (socialist, communist, and anarchist internationals, etc.). 
Man will be exalted!
Ouvriers, paysans, nous sommes
Le grand parti des travailleurs
La terre n’appartient qu’aux hommes
L’oisif ira loger ailleurs
Combien de nos chairs se repaissent
Mais si les corbeaux, les vautours
Un de ces matins disparaissent
Le soleil brillera toujours.
Laborers, peasants, we are
The great party of workers
The earth belongs only to men
The idle will go reside elsewhere
How much of our flesh they feed on,
But if the ravens and vultures
Disappear one of these days
The sun will still shine
רַק לָנוּ עֲמֵלֵי כַּפַּיִם
רַק לָנוּ עֲמֵלֵי הַיְּקוּם
הָאֲדָמָה וּבִרְכוֹתֶיהָ
וּלְכָל הוֹלְכֵי בָּטֵל לֹא כְלוּם
עֲבוּר הַדְּרוֹר וּפְדוּת הָרוּחַ
וּפְרֹק הָעֹל מִגַּב הָעָם
לַבֵּה הָאֵשׁ וְהַךְ בְּכוֹחַ
כָּל עוֹד בַּרְזֶל עוֹדֶנּוּ חַם
We are only manual laborers,
we are only workers of the World
[of] the fertile-earth and its blessings.
For those who walk aimless there is nothing.
For freedom and spiritual redemption
and to dismantle the yoke from the people’s back
strike fiercely from the heart of the fire
while the iron is still hot!
Il n’est pas de sauveurs suprêmes
Ni Dieu, ni César, ni tribun
Producteurs, sauvons-nous nous-mêmes
Décrétons le salut commun
Pour que le voleur rende gorge
Pour tirer l’esprit du cachot
Soufflons nous-mêmes notre forge
Battons le fer quand il est chaud.
There are no supreme saviors
Neither God, nor Caesar, nor tribune.
Producers, let us save ourselves
Decree on the common welfare
That the thief return his plunder,
That the spirit be pulled from its prison
Let us fan the forge ourselves
Strike the iron while it is hot
אֵין רַב רִיבֵנוּ וּמוֹשִׁיעַ
לֹא אֵל, לֹא מֶלֶךְ, לֹא גִּבּוֹר
בִּזְרוֹעַ נְטוּיָה נַבְקִיעַ
אֲנַחְנוּ דֶּרֶךְ אֶל הָאוֹר
וְכִי רַעַם אֲבָדוֹן יָרִיעַ
עַל רֹאשׁ אוֹיְבֵינוּ לְהֻמַּם
עָלֵינוּ שֶׁמֶשׁ דְּרוֹר יַפְצִיעַ
לִשְׁפֹּךְ אֶת זָהֳרָהּ הַחַם
There is no one, no savior to fight our struggle,[8] Cf. the brakhah concluding the reading of Megilat Esther. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, (הָאֵל) הָרָב אֶת רִיבֵֽנוּ וְהַדָּן אֶת דִּינֵֽנוּ וְהַנּוֹקֵם אֶת נִקְמָתֵֽנוּ וְהַמְשַׁלֵּם גְּמוּל לְכָל אוֹיְבֵי נַפְשֵֽׁנוּ וְהַנִּפְרָע לָֽנוּ מִצָּרֵֽינוּ. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ הַנִּפְרָע לְעַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל מִכָּל צָרֵיהֶם הָאֵל הַמּוֹשִֽׁיעַ:‏. (Many thanks to Rabbi George Barnard for noting this.) The blessing after the Megillah serves to attribute to God the victory of the tale of near genocide, a tale in which the divine name is absent and any divine intervention is hidden (or implicit). By providing this reference, Shlonsky, I believe, subverts the explicit denial of God in Pottier’s original lyrics while in no way dulling their edge. 
no god, no king, no giant
to break through with an outstretched arm.[9] Exodus 6:6 
We are on the path toward the Light!
While thunderous doom will clap
upon our enemy’s stupefied heads,
upon us sunshine shall emerge
to pour out her warm radiance.

The Chanson Internationale (‘International Song’) was originally written in 1871 by Eugène Pottier, a French public transportation worker, member of the International Workingmen’s Association (The First International), and activist of the Paris Commune. He wrote it to pay tribute to the commune violently destroyed that year. The song became the official anthem of The Second International, of the Comintem, and between 1921 and 1944 also of the Soviet Union. Most socialist and communist parties adopted it as their anthem during the last decades of the 19th century and throughout the 20th century, adapting it in local languages (Russian, Yiddish, etc.) to their particular ideological framework. Several stanzas of the anthem were first translated into Hebrew by Avraham Shlonsky in 1921. As Ron Kuzar explains,[10] Ron Kuzar, “Translating the Internationale: unity and dissent in the encoding of proletarian solidarity” in Journal of Pragmatics 34 (2002) 87-109. 

This is the only version [of the Internationale] that every Jewish Israeli has been singing in Hebrew, regardless of exact political affiliation. Shlonsky was an important poet of Labor-Zionism, the stream of Zionism which was becoming hegemonic in Palestine from the 1920s holding this power through the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and till 1977. Striving to foster a Jewish national entity in Palestine, Labor-Zionism was guided by the principle of Constructive Socialism, which advocated selective postponement of class struggle during the phases of nation-building, partly substituting class struggle with cooperation with capital invested in a productive national spirit, especially when carried out under the auspices of the organizational and political power of Labor-Zionism (Horowitz and Lissak, 1977: 187, 203-207) (see Fig. 1). Its objective was to build a national economy which ascribed priority and channeled funds to the creation of employment opportunities for the Jewish workers and to the settlement of Jews in the country’s frontiers in several types of cooperative communities.

Labor Zionism had different political streams in it, ranging from social democracy to radical Marxism, but on the whole, it did not deny – at least in its earlier phases – the socialist revolutionary tradition. During 1921-1922, Shlonsky was a member of the Labor Legion, the first countrywide organization of Jewish workers’ communes in Palestine, which undertook road paving, stone mining and cutting, house construction, and other hard labor jobs. The Legion was formed in the Valley of Yizre’el, and later spread to other parts of the country. Shlonsky viewed himself as a “road paving poet” ([1927] 1961: 165), a binomial definition which embodies his insistence on the professionality of the poet, albeit combined with a personal involvement in physical labor. Before the 1920s, “the ideological attitude towards literary production that expressed labor life, especially when written by the workers themselves, involved also a moratorium on aesthetic judgment. The mechanism of acceptance sometimes simply evaded literary evaluation according to established norms, which were otherwise applied to literature” (Hever, 1994: 75), in order to enhance a literary production in Hebrew, which lauded the Zionist project and praised its agents.

Shlonsky had come to Palestine equipped with an avant-garde modernism which declined to accept one-sided writing, preferring to stand at the forefront of political involvement and debate. During the two years of his membership in the Labor Legion, Shlonsky was not yet able to materialize the independence of a professional poet in his own life; this started to happen only when he moved to Tel-Aviv in 1922. But his insistence on quality, on the expression of the personal angle, and on the right to culturally intervene, not only to collectively reflect, was part of the European modernism that he imported. To be sure, “the dichotomy [between the traditional and the modernist literary viewpoints] was not between mobilized versus unmobilized literature, but between more principled intellectual commitments, which would materialize in the different literary structures emanating from them” (Hever, 1994: 71).

In a later autobiographical text, Shlonsky recounts that already while in the Labor Legion he had a literary dialogue with “my secret readers” on “old and new in poetry, on necessary transformation in contents and forms”. It was this small group that “‘ordered’ from me the translation of the Internationale, for the first celebration of the First of May in the Valley of Yizre’el” ([1954] 1964: 895). Shlonsky faced the need to deal with the tension between preserving, on the one hand, the principled socialist heritage of class struggle and international solidarity of all workers, and on the other hand provisionally suspending it under the local conditions of nation building and national solidarity. The Arab worker, with whom the Labor Legion was competing for employment opportunities, was both a canditate for class solidarity and a challenger of the emergent separate Jewish national economy.

The text of Shlonsky’s translation found here is as found elsewhere, in Hebrew Wikipedia and in Zemereshet. (I haven’t yet been able to locate the source for the additional two stanzas given for Shlonsky.) The English translation of Shlonsky’s first stanza of the Internationale was made by Ron Kuzar, to which I have made a few small changes for the sake of a smoother reading. I have also added translations for the remaining two stanzas. Please leave a comment below, or by contact us, if you feel anything needs correction or improvement. –Aharon Varady

Recordings

 

Notes

Notes
1 Cf. Isaiah 52:1-2 with “O (daughter of) Zion,” replaced with a “hapless people.” For חֵלְכָה (hapless), find Psalms 10:8-10 and Psalms 10:14-15 in their context.
2 Cf. Deuteronomy 26:5-6. Following after the Russian and Yiddish translations. Shlonsky alters “the whole world of hungry people and slaves” in Russian, to “a people of slaves…”
3 Cf. Deuteronomy 32:24.
4 Cf. Psalms 94:1-2, Psalms 94:6, and Psalms 94:14-15 in their context of avenging the acts of the wicked. While the Russian and Yiddish translations, have the metaphor of “burning” directed towards the struggle, Shlonsky evokes the theme of social justice in the psalm according to Kuzar. In the context of early Zionism, I think it would evoke passions of vengeance against the injustices against Jews in the pogroms occurring at the very time Shlonsky was translating this Hebrew version.
5 Cf. Jeremiah 28:4, the yoke of oppression in the Diaspora.
6 Kuzar suggests this refers to the class struggle attested in a play by Haim Shurer (1919), which “deals with the struggle between the veteran peasants in the Jewish agricultural settlements and the newly arrived Jewish agricultural workers.” (For the play, find Ha’adama 1: 287-316 [In Hebrew]).
7 i.e., here referring to Left-wing International movements (socialist, communist, and anarchist internationals, etc.).
8 Cf. the brakhah concluding the reading of Megilat Esther. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, (הָאֵל) הָרָב אֶת רִיבֵֽנוּ וְהַדָּן אֶת דִּינֵֽנוּ וְהַנּוֹקֵם אֶת נִקְמָתֵֽנוּ וְהַמְשַׁלֵּם גְּמוּל לְכָל אוֹיְבֵי נַפְשֵֽׁנוּ וְהַנִּפְרָע לָֽנוּ מִצָּרֵֽינוּ. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ הַנִּפְרָע לְעַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל מִכָּל צָרֵיהֶם הָאֵל הַמּוֹשִֽׁיעַ:‏. (Many thanks to Rabbi George Barnard for noting this.) The blessing after the Megillah serves to attribute to God the victory of the tale of near genocide, a tale in which the divine name is absent and any divine intervention is hidden (or implicit). By providing this reference, Shlonsky, I believe, subverts the explicit denial of God in Pottier’s original lyrics while in no way dulling their edge.
9 Exodus 6:6
10 Ron Kuzar, “Translating the Internationale: unity and dissent in the encoding of proletarian solidarity” in Journal of Pragmatics 34 (2002) 87-109.
 

 

1 comment to הָאִינְטֶרְנַצְיוֹנָל | the Internationale, by Eugène Pottier (1871); Hebrew translation by Avraham Shlonsky (1921)

  • Avatar Carl Mosk

    There was a strain of escatology in some versions of Marxism, a sense that Communism would be the final stage of history, nationalism giving way to a world in which “workers of the world” would shake off their chains. Lenism shattered this dream with the notion of a “dictatorship of the proletariat” brought on by purely political means. I wonder how a visionary poet/writer dealt with this contradiction as the Second International gave way to Moscow-dominated Third International.

Comments, Corrections, and Queries